Feature Films shot using Smartphones

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Guardian ran an article earlier this year claiming they believed smartphones had now overtaken traditional point and shoot cameras in popularity when it came to taking stills. They said the turning point for this was when the iPhone became the most popular device for uploading pictures to twitter. Since this has happened, phone makers have been fighting tooth and nail to have the best camera on the market, and have even been adding internet connections and powerful zoom lenses to basic models in attempts to corner that end of the market.

But this has since moved on from just stills, film-makers also quickly realised the potential of such devices and have been working with all types of smartphones to produce not just quality short films but feature length as well.In fact, on the 16th of December last year, The first film to be shot entirely on an iPhone was released to cinemas in the U.S. The film, entitle Olive, was about a little girl who didn’t speak, and from what I have seen, has not suffered visually at all for having been shot on these small cameras. In fact, based on what I have seen, the film appears to be so aesthetically pleasing, that it would likely be fair to say the film makers went out of their way to makesure the film looked just as good as it would with full size cameras and as a result it has ended up looking better. The film was shot on Nokia N8 smartphones, which were double-taped to traditional film-camera lenses. The director Hooman Khalili said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that they had to hack the phone to turn off it’s auto zoom feature in order to make it behave the way they wanted “The camera thinks it knows what you want to focus on,” he said. “But it doesn’t know.”

This is a behind the scenes video from the film, It gives a great insight into the way they shot this  film and shows the kind of equipment they still needed to use to get the sort of quality they needed.


Here is the short cinematic trailer from the film


Although some people may be surprised to learn that a feature film has been shot on a smartphone, it’s not by any stretch a rarity now days, with film-makers constantly looking for the next great idea. Acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-Wook is likely the most famous film-maker to adopt the smartphone for a film, and he chose to go with the iPhone. Chan-Wook shot his 33-minute feature entitles Night Fishing (Paranmanjang in the original Korean) on the device, although he to used an external lens, proving we are still some way off using just smartphones alone. He attached a 35mm lens to his own iPhone to be used as the primary camera on the set, but as far as I know, the crew filmed with iPhone’s plain and simple, no external lenses.

Here is the film in full from Vimeo


It’s the flexibility that attracts film-makers to the smartphone. If you know what your doing you can simple whip it out and shoot, when your done, it’s there, in the bad and your ready to go on the next scene. Leeds indie film maker and director Danny Lacey spoke to the Guardian about his feeling on the subject of smartphone filming. He said he usually DSLR’s but that he can see the appeal of using something smaller and more manoeuvrable “It’s incredibly handy and fun to be able to film using my iPhone 4,”  “Shooting at 720p, 30fps on that tiny piece of technology that fits in the palm of your hand, very exciting. I recently shot an experimental video on my iPhone 4 using an 8mm app called Super 8. On top of that I used a macro lens attachment made specifically for the iPhone. The idea was to film lots of random images with the main focus being on the interesting shapes and flares you can get from various light sources.”

When one looks into this it’s hardly surprising at all that film-makers are starting to become interested in using this kind of camera. Looking around on the web, there are so many examples of amazing looking short films which people have produced simply by attaching an SLR lens to their smartphone

Here is one more example, which I think is a beautiful showcase of what is possible on a smartphone



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